Over Prescribing Antibiotics

The occasions of going to your health care provider for a standard antibiotic are over, or should be soon. As reported by the CDC, an astounding two million people every single year are identified as having an antibiotic-resistant strain of disease, and a full 23,000 of them die as a result. What’s causing it? Over prescribing antibiotics, or prescribing them when unnecessary. In fact, it is been calculated that as much has 1/2 of all prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary and unhelpful.

According to Lauri Hicks, DO, medical epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and medical director for the Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program, “The reasons for this high frequency of inappropriate prescribing are complex. The most common justifications are diagnostic uncertainty, severe illness, and concern for patient satisfaction during their visit.”

Historically, patients would ask for an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection, and health practitioners would agree, even though antibiotics are not effective in managing viral infections. The shift currently is for physicians to recommend over-the-counter medications, and a delayed prescription – to be filled at a later time if signs and symptoms continue.

For seniors, it’s particularly crucial to make sure antibiotics are prescribed only if truly warranted, in order to minimize antibiotic resistance. The CDC recommends taking the following actions:

  • Preventative measures. Receive vaccines for flu, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella/zoster meningococcal, and hepatitis, as appropriate. Be diligent in personal cleanliness, such as fastidious hand-washing regularly throughout the day, and always before eating and following using the toilet. And, refrain from close contact with other people who are sick.
  • Minimize antibiotic use. It is imperative that we all change our mindset with regards to the usage of antibiotics, understanding that while they’re certainly beneficial under particular circumstances, they must be avoided for typical viral infections. Talk with your doctor to consider the pros and cons when an antibiotic is advised.
  • Make sure that any issues are documented. In the event you end up with antibiotic resistance, make sure to have the doctor report it. The CDC is amassing data to record information about antibiotic-resistant infections, reasons for those infections, and risk factors, to be able to assist in preventing or decreasing the number of occurrences.

Development of new antibiotics and diagnostic tests is an ongoing process to attempt to stay ahead of resistant bacteria. Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director for the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, shares, “We are approaching a cliff. If we don’t take steps to slow or stop drug resistance, we will fall back to a time when simple infections killed people.”

We should all do our part to help address this dangerous trend! Email or call Hearts at Home In-Home Care, the home health care Kansas City experts, for additional information on how we can help, such as by accompanying senior loved ones to medical appointments and to receive vaccinations, by ensuring the household environment is neat and sanitary, by preparing nutritionally beneficial meals to optimize health and wellbeing, and more. Call us at 913-440-4209 to learn how our compassionate care team can help keep the older adults you love healthy and thriving!